Maui Offers a Romantic Destination

Makena Beach, Maui, Hawaii, at sunrise

For a destination wedding or honeymoon that doesn’t require a passport, there’s no more romantic U.S. destination than Hawaii. And with several direct flights from mainland cities and just a 25-minute connection from Honolulu for the rest, the island of Maui offers a more exclusive, nature-focused escape than busier Oahu.

Arguably the state’s most beautiful island, black sand beaches, lush rain forest and plenty of waterfalls await in the Valley Isle. Here’s how to guarantee an unforgettable experience in Maui, whatever your goals.

Stay in style

Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort in Maui, Hawaii, is a premier stay on coveted Wailea Beach.
Photo courtesy of Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort

For more than 30 years, Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort has been a premier stay on coveted Wailea Beach, one of the island’s most idyllic locales. The expansive resort covers more than 40 beachfront acres of mature landscaping with meandering pathways winding around multiple pools, a cave grotto, upscale restaurants, and the nearly 800 rooms and suites that make up its towers and villas. The most exclusive suites are found in the private Napua Tower, with a dedicated concierge and a Napua-only lounge offering light meals and snacks throughout the day, and cocktail hours in the evening.

Kilolani Spa located at Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort is the largest spa on Hawaii
Photo courtesy of Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort

For ultimate pampering, though, visit the brand-new Kilolani Spa, a 50,000-square-foot space that is now the largest spa in Hawaii. Centered on the same moon phases that formed the traditional Hawaiian calendar and still guide fishermen today, this wellness haven includes 40 treatment rooms, Hawaii’s only hammam, a flotation saltwater pool, halotherapy saunas, and hydrothermal gardens available before or after treatments, or with a dedicated pass.

From beach to ballrooms (including Hawaii’s largest), Grand Wailea’s extensive event expertise offers customizable ceremonies and receptions in every size and variety across 30 unique spaces. Among the most charming is the Seaside Chapel, accommodating up to 100 guests in the ocean-view dazzler of traditional architecture outfitted on all sides by monumental stained-glass scenes of Hawaiian culture created by a local artist who spent two years training in Italy for this project.

Wailea wedding planners can assist from conceptualization to execution, managing all services from florals and photography to local entertainment, officiants and fully customizable catering for all events. And, of course, honeymoon planning. Whether you come for all of the above or your honeymoon only, there are some off-property island highlights you definitely won’t want to miss on the road, on the sand, and on the sea.

On the road

The legendary Road to Hana in Maui, Hawaii
Photo courtesy of Maui Visitors Bureau

Travel the legendary Road to Hana for immersion in the heart of Maui’s lush paradise. The roughly 64-mile journey to the charming town of Hana in northeast Maui takes an average of 2 1/2 hours each way with no stops, but you should make many, so budget the best part of the day for this and start as early as possible (truly) to get a jump on what can be considerable traffic.

This seriously winding road (there are more than 600 hairpin turns and 50-plus single-lane, old stone bridges) offers dreamscape vistas of cascading waterfalls, verdant rainforests and dramatic cliffs plunging into the lively ocean. Expect a combination of natural beauty and cultural richness, including bamboo forests, colorful botanical gardens and sacred Hawaiian sites.

Along the way, you’ll find colorful roadside stands offering fresh coconut water, unbeatable banana breads and next-level Hawaiian coffee, inviting you to savor the flavors of Hawaii and the island as you go.

Many travelers rent vehicles for the adventure, but it can be much easier to hire a guided tour, offering you more time to ogle the surroundings or to close your eyes if needed—the countless turns and bumps can test sensitive stomachs.

Couple walking on a black sand beach in Maui, Hawaii
Photo courtesy of Hawaii Tourism Authority

Pro Tips: There are countless worthwhile stops you can make on this infamous road, but you may want to be extra sure to catch two special opportunities: For sea turtle spotting, stop at the Hookipa Lookout early in the journey at mile marker 8.8, where you’re likely to find several sunning on the beach while surfers ride the waves (best in the afternoons, but we saw plenty in the early morning on our visit). To swim on a black sand beach, stop at Wai’anapanapa State Park and trek down to the enticing shore. There’s a parking fee and a low per-person entrance fee here, and you must make a reservation in advance, but the small effort is worth the experience, especially after traveling all this way.

On the sand

Makena Beach in Maui, Hawaii.

At the opposite, southwest end of the island, Makena Beach is a prime example of Maui’s postcard-perfect settings. Also known as “Big Beach,” Makena boasts over a mile of deep, golden shore framed by rugged lava rock formations and vibrant greenery. Wade into its turquoise waters or simply laze about in the tropical sun. You’ll also score great views of neighboring islands from here, making it a popular spot for catching vivid sunsets. This is pristine Hawaiian scenery at its finest.

On the sea

Sea turtle near a coral reef in Molokini Crater in Maui, Hawaii

For underwater adventure, or at least in the water, take a short boat ride to Molokini Crater. The crystal-clear waters of this volcanic caldera offer ultimate visibility for marveling at enchanting coral reefs teeming with diverse marine life, perfect for both snorkelers and divers. Look out for colorful fish, serene sea turtles and even the occasional manta ray. The crater’s unique crescent shape creates a sheltered sanctuary from ocean currents, providing a tranquil environment for underwater exploration with the cliffs of Molokini as a dramatic backdrop.